Being one of the world’s foremost fashion maisons, it goes without saying that impeccable craftsmanship is the cornerstone of Hermès. But equally powerful are the ideas that inspire its signature products, designs, and motifs. From the brand’s love for the colour red to the exotic ingredients that possess its fragrance flacons, everything has a story. Here, we take a look at some top Hermès bags, and the details that form their identity.
The Birkin and the Kelly may be Hermès’ most revered bags, but even amongst them the Constance holds her ground with a quiet elegance. Launched in 1967, and named after the daughter of the designer who created the bag, the Constance is an anytime bag, offering different lengths, sizes, colours, and materials. Immediately recognisable because of its curved flaps, its highlight is the distinct ‘H’ clasp, which has seen several iterations, including versions in gold, silver, enamel, lacquer, and stone inlays. Ingenious and functional, it opens and closes with the aid of a spring-loaded mechanism concealed on each side of the bar fixed to the flap.
The design of a humble stable door bolt finding pride of place on a luxury bag would seem inconceivable, but Robert Dumas, the former director of Hermès, was known to find beauty in the mundane. In 1938, he adapted the design of the stable door bolt to make it a jewelled clasp, and placed it on the Verrou, a leather clutch (or bag, depending on whether you decide to pair it with a leather shoulder strap, jewellery inspired chain, or webbing strap). The clasp works with a very precise system — it can’t be too strong or loose, and the alignment of the bolt with the strike has to be perfect. Something made tougher to achieve since it is mounted on a soft material like leather.
The Mosaique Au 24
We said every design at Hermès has a story, and the hardware of this structured flap bag, which first made an appearance on the pre-fall 2018 runway, comes inspired by the mosaic flooring of Hermès’s more-than-a-century-old flagship store at 24 Faubourg Saint-Honoré, Paris. While the bag comes in various colours and two sizes (17 cm and 21 cm), the clasp, a streamlined square composed of several blocks at different heights, steals the show with its ingenuity. To open, one must press the central block in the clasp to release the flap, and to close, place the central block at the centre of the clasp with an easy movement.
The Della Cavalleria
Hermès’ longstanding equestrian history becomes apparent in this bold bag. The Della Cavalleria’s soft curves, rounded surface, and big flap immediately make it an eye-catching piece, but that idea is furthered by an adjustable strap that comes in two formats — a satchel style bag for daytime and a miniature version for night. It’s centrepiece is a silver clasp shaped like a bridle, and is a result of delicate silversmith work. It not only allows it to create and embrace the distinct curve at the bottom of the bag, but also facilitates easy opening.
The Mors de Bride
It had caught our eye when we had seen it on the SS ’21 runway this past October, and we feel it is well on its way to being counted amongst top Hermès bags. A slim, clean evening bag with minimal trappings and maximum style. The Mors de Bride echoes the sentiment of the moment — form that serves function. The hardware on it references Hermès’ leather harnesses — the clasp is inspired by the bridle, and the design of the horse’s bit features in the strap. The bag in itself can be worn short, long, or crossbody. Lined with lambskin, it comes in a variety of smooth, grained, and precious leathers.
The Minuit au Faubourg
Having debuted on the FW ’20 runway, this evening bag, which once again pays obeisance to the hallowed walls of the Hermès flagship store, comes in precious leathers, smooth lizard, or smooth alligator. But its highlight is the patented jewel clasp inspired by the art of watchmaking. A sapphire crystal reveals the mechanism, and to open it, one must turn the clasp to the right (counter-clockwise) — it closes on its own when pushing the flap.
All images: Courtesy Hermès